Scott Erickson

It should come as no surprise that President Obama’s judicial nominees and executive appointments have been, at a minimum, left-of-center. It should be equally unsurprising that Senate Democrats would vote in lock step to support Mr. Obama’s nominees given the hyper-polarized atmosphere surrounding Washington over the past five years.

But Mr. Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division did surprise me. And Senate Democrats, voting on Thursday to push Mr. Adegbile’s nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee, equally surprised and disappointed me.

Mr. Adegbile has rightly been criticized over his association to, and representation of, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. The unrepentant Abu-Jamal, long a cause célèbre to the far-left, was convicted of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

Faulkner’s story is one that is sadly repeated dozens of times per year throughout the United States. A five year veteran working patrol in Philadelphia, Faulkner conducted a vehicle stop in the early morning hours of December 9, 1981 at Locust and 12th Street. Multiple eye witnesses reported that when Faulkner attempted to place the driver of the vehicle under arrest, Abu-Jamal ran from across the street and shot Faulkner in the back.

Faulkner returned fire, wounding Abu-Jamal, but fell to the ground severely injured. Abu-Jamal then stood over Faulkner and shot him four additional times, including once in the face. When responding officers arrived on scene they discovered Abu-Jamal laying only a few feet away from Faulkner’s body, still in possession of the gun used to kill Officer Faulkner.

Officers struggled to take Abu-Jamal into custody as he violently resisted arrest. From the scene, he was taken to Thomas Jefferson Hospital where security guard Priscilla Durham testified to hearing Abu-Jamal shout, “I shot the mother-(expletive) and I hope the mother-(expletive) dies” upon entering the hospital.

Abu-Jamal was tried and convicted in the murder of Officer Faulkner. His case was given the full benefit of the appellate process.

But yet for many the tragic story of Daniel Faulkner is far less compelling than the supposed “injustices” faced by Abu-Jamal. These include allegations of an unfair trial, police corruption, and the almost farcical claim that corrupt Philadelphia police officers and the mafia, not Abu-Jamal, were responsible for Officer Faulkner’s murder.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Abu-Jamal’s petition for a new trial in both 1989 and 1998. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. Multiple judges have listened to, and utterly rejected, Abu-Jamal’s various defense claims.

But such overwhelming evidence has not stopped various left-wing organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), of which Mr. Adegbile previously served as Director of Litigation and acting President, from supporting the cause of Abu-Jamal.

The Daily Caller reported that the LDF attempted to appeal Abu-Jamal’s capital murder conviction but was also rejected, again, by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2012. Although unsuccessful, the LDF continued to support Abu-Jamal during Mr. Adegbile’s tenure as acting president.

Nobody disputes that every American deserves a robust defense when confronted with allegations of criminal wrongdoing and, equally, full access to the appellate process in light of conviction. However, it is the type of blind activism that has motivated so much support for Abu-Jamal, driven more by ideology than fact, that renders Mr. Adegbile’s nomination so disturbing.

If affirmed by the Senate, a prospect of much higher likelihood given that Democrats stripped Republicans of their ability to filibuster most nominees, Mr. Adegbile will lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, a body tasked with, among myriad other responsibilities, investigating allegations of police misconduct.

Having spent the past fifteen years working as a police officer I find it unsettling to consider that the individual Mr. Obama has nominated to oversee investigations against police officers is the same individual that previously offered support for, and indirectly gave credence to, the wild allegations of a convicted and unrepentant cop-killer.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is afforded a tremendous amount of responsibility. Investigating allegations of civil right’s abuses affects all Americans and such allegations ought to be afforded great deference. But when such allegations are brought to light they should be investigated with an eye toward impartiality, not activism.


Scott Erickson

Scott Erickson’s writing has been featured in The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, The Hill, Defense News, and other publications.